Mike Portnoy says that he would play with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson "in a heartbeat" if he were ever asked to step in as the replacement for RUSH drummer Neil Peart.
Lee recently revealed that that not only is Peart done playing with RUSH, but he's done playing period.
Asked by Eric Blair of "The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show" at last Wednesday's (Janaury 23) Hall Of Heavy Metal History event in Anaheim, California if he has had any talks with Lifeson and Lee about working with them on music in the future, Portnoy replied (see video below): "Not recently. I had a brief e-mail exchange with Alex, I think when Neil announced his retirement.
"The reality is, look, those guys are my heroes and Neil as well, obviously," Mike continued. "I would do it in a heartbeat if hypothetically it was ever asked. But I don't think in a million years it would ever happen without all three of them. And I love and respect and honor Neil so much, I would never wanna do anything without his blessing. But that being said, in a hypothetical world, if the call ever came, yeah, it would be a dream gig for me. Of course."
When Blair pointed out to Portnoy that a new Lee-Lifeson collaboration would not be called RUSH, making it easier for Mike to just "slip right in there," the drummer said: "Hey, I know the tunes. I've been playing 'em my whole life. In fact, I just did a really cool RUSH tribute. It's a steel drum tribute, with a pan drum orchestra of 50 different steel drummers and myself on drums and guitar and bass, and we recorded a bunch of RUSH songs, but with this 50-piece steel drum orchestra. It was really cool. That's gonna be coming out in the next couple of months."
RUSH has been completely inactive since completing the "R40 Live" tour more than three years ago. Peart was battling enormous physical pain through much of the trek, including a foot infection that made it agonizing for him to even walk.
Lifeson and Lee have repeatedly said that RUSH will never do a show unless all three musicians agree to take part. They haven't performed as RUSH without Peart since he joined the band in 1974.
For first six years of RUSH's existence, John Rutsey was behind the kit and he played on the band's self-titled debut LP.
Portnoy previously told "The Chainsaw Symphony" radio show that he understood why Lifeson, Peart and Lee would want to call it quits while they were still at the peak of their playing ability.
"I grew up with [RUSH] and I went through a huge RUSH phase in the mid-'80s, early '80s when I was a teenager," he said. "Neil was always my hero back then, and since then I'm honored that we've become good friends and I cherish that relationship. And I've stayed a RUSH fan through all these years.
"It's sad to see it end, but you've gotta respect that, because if they can't deliver, and if they are in physical pain and they can't deliver what fans wanna see, I respect that they would go out on top," Mike said. "I don't like when I see bands that are just a memory of what they used to be, and there's a few out there that I've seen recently that are still touring… I'm not gonna name them, but some of the members can barely play their parts, and then they have a lot of other members that weren't even originally in the band. So I don't know. I would rather see a band like RUSH go out on top and have all the good memories of what they're capable of."